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Neerlandia lagoon project receives financial boost

Province announces $889,200 in funding to go towards the hamlet’s wastewater lagoon expansion project
Oyarzun, July 21-cropped
County manager Debbie Oyarzun pictured here at a July 21 council meeting said the municipality received close to $900,000 in Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership (AMWWP) funding. The municipality will use the funds to offset costs involved in upgrading its wastewater lagoon facility in Neerlandia. Barry Kerton/T&C

BARRHEAD-Neerlandia is full of it. Or at least the waste lagoon is, or will soon be, which is why the County of Barrhead is in the process of upgrading or expanding the one-cell wastewater disposal facility for the hamlet.

And county manager Debbie Oyarzun said a provincial grant $889,200 will go a long way to pay for the estimated $1.26 million project cost.

On July 17, the province announced that the municipality would receive the funding as part of its Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) grant. The province created STIP as a way to help municipalities solve their infrastructure deficit as well as to help boost the economy and create jobs as part of its response to the coronavirus.

The province estimates that more than 20 jobs will because of the lagoon expansion.

"Creating jobs and investing in our water and wastewater infrastructure is important in Northern Alberta. Not only does it improve core infrastructure, but it helps grow our economy," stated Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken.

County manager Debbie Oyarzun clarified the funding for the lagoon expansion comes from the Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership (AMWWP). The program, which like STIP, is administered by Alberta Transportation was created in 1991, provides cost-shared funding to eligible municipalities to help build municipal facilities for water supply and treatment, and wastewater treatment and disposal.

"These funds will go along way towards covering the cost of the Neerlandia Lagoon Expansion and Force Main project, alleviating the need to further draw on County reserves and grant funds that could be used for other priority projects in the county," she stated via e-mail.

Sadly, Oyarzun said they believe the lagoon project will come in over budget because of the necessity to conduct a geotechnical study and wetland assessment as well as deal with any remediation that is required.

The municipality has known the lagoon as been closing in on capacity, especially considering the growth Neerlandia has seen for several years and have been working on a way to extend its life.

Back in 2007, the municipality contracted AMEC Infrastructure Limited to complete a wastewater system study for Neerlandia. The study recommended the expansion of the sewage lagoon and also the twinning of the sewer line going from the hamlet to the lagoon. The AMEC study also suggested that the project would need to be completed by 2019.

However, they ran into complications after they found out that the land the county acquired for the expansion was in a wetland.

To solve this problem, they had hoped to turn to technology investigating two different companies Bluecon and Swirltex which through differing systems said they could extend the life of the lagoon for about half the cost.

However, due to time constraints after consulting with public works Oyarzun recommended in October 2019 to go with a conventional lagoon build adding a second cell.

STIP

The municipality also received an additional $400,125 to help with bridge replacements. The funding provides for 75 per cent of estimated eligible project costs for two bridge projects.

The first being a bridge pipe replacement SE 2-61-4-W5 in north Bloomsbury. The total cost of the project is expected to come in at $383,500 with STIP providing $287,625.

The second project is a bridge replacement on Willow Wild Road. The projected cost is $150,000 with STIP funding covering $112,500.

Oyarzun said in the case of the lagoon and bridge replacement costs anything not covered by grants will be funded by dipping into the municipality's reserves.

Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com

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